The biggest target of cyberattacks today is the healthcare industry, as the protected health information (PHI) that healthcare facilities handle daily is very lucrative to cybercriminals.
Healthcare providers face greater pressure to provide excellent services. At the same time, they must comply with the strict data privacy rules imposed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 or HIPAA. Under the HIPAA rules, all covered entities that electronically transmit health information must implement the policies and procedures to protect the PHI.
Achieving HIPAA compliance
HIPAA covers many rules, policies, and guidelines. For many healthcare providers and facilities, HIPAA compliance is a complex task. However, they must implement and follow the guidelines because non-compliance will result in civil and criminal penalties.
You cannot avoid HIPPA implementation, but you can prevent non-compliance with these tips. Here are ways to do so:
- Form a healthcare compliance team
There is so much ground to cover to remain HIPAA compliant. Thus, a healthcare provider needs to use the expertise of professionals who will be responsible for the HIPAA implementation. It should include HIPAA compliance auditors to do risk analysis and develop a strategy to ensure PHI security and privacy. For larger healthcare organizations, it is advisable to have a healthcare industry lawyer.
- Perform regular risk assessments
The HIPAA security rule requires that you identify areas where PHI is most vulnerable. The rule says that a facility should implement HIPAA risk management as an administrative safeguard under the security rule. Regular conduct of risk assessment covers all the bases according to the requirements for assessment, physical, and administrative protection.
- Do vulnerability scans and penetration testings
HIPAA does not require healthcare facilities to do vulnerability scans and penetrationtestings. However, you do the latter to ensure that your system’s entry points have a strong defense against cyberattacks. Vulnerability scans check your systems for vulnerabilities created by firewall configuration or frequent changes in your various applications.
- Remote workspaces should also be compliant
HIPAA compliance covers all your offices, including remote workspaces. If you have administrative employees who work from home, they are also subject to the HIPAA guidelines. Ensure that their devices are secure. Moreover, make sure their software has the latest patches and require your staff members to use virtual private networks on all their devices.
- Cybersecurity awareness training is critical
Aside from ensuring that you have the best network security program, cybersecurity awareness training for your staff members is vital. You can invite professionals to conduct HIPAA security awareness training, focusing on essential topics on cybersecurity awareness. For example, training should focus on dealing with a potential breach, observing physical security measures, creating strong passwords, and identifying phishing scams. Your employees are the front liners of your efforts in HIPAA security, so make sure that you constantly train them about cybersecurity to comply with HIPAA.
Maintaining HIPAA compliance takes effort. It is unavoidable, but you can ensure compliance by creating a team to handle all the requirements. You can also use a provider that offers a solution to ensure that you follow the compliance guidelines explicitly.